Is it a good or bad idea to grow grapes on field fencing? I have a nice sunny area on the front border of my property and was thinking about planting some grapes there. Will it hurt the fence in any way?
I think it would depend on what the fence is made of. I've just pulled down a some grape vines off of part of a shed, because the vines were growing under the siding and forcing it to pop out. But I left the vines that had found the woodtrellis portion of the shed.
I've seen vines damaging stucco walls.
From what I remember of seeing grapes growing in the local vineyards, they're mostly grown on metal wires strung between wood stakes. If commercial growers think growing grapes draped on metal is fine, then it's probably fine for your horse fence.The only problem I could conceive with metallic fencing and vines is if the vines got so heavy they started pulling the fence down, but that would a) be a lot of grapes and b) would probably be something easily noticed, and thus remedied!
I've grown grapes on a chain link fence, and it works okay. Not great, but okay. The main problem was that you generally want the fruiting area to be 2 or 3 feet off the ground, and then the vines grow up from the fruiting area. If you have a 6 foot tall fence, that might work. But, with my 48 inch chain link fence the vines always turned into a jumbled mess by mid summer.
Well, since it's on the front border I assume this is SOLELY on your property? I ask this for a reason, and I'm not sure how it works in Texas. In Kentucky, property line fence is considered property of both parties, i.e., if I put one up between me and a neighbor legally I can obligate them to pay for half of it. So obviously a neighbor would be less than thrilled about it being damaged. With that in mind, I'd check with the neighbor if the shoe fits.
Are we talking high-tensile fence? Grapes can get heavy, and depending on what grape you're growing may damage the fence (muscadines pack on WEIGHT and grow like crazy). Personally I'd put in a trellis. Something as simple as two 4x4 posts (depending on the running length), a top brace, and tensioned wire between the two will work. You can goodle one and two cordon trellis systems to get an idea. This way you can grow the vines to an appropriate height, as tension the wire as needed to offset the weight. Less than $100, and some manual labor, will get you a grape trellis that will last a LONG time assuming you take care of it. With one plant we're talking two to three 12ft 4x4's, some large gauge wire (12-14?), few bags of quickcrete to set the posts, and wire vices for the ends, or a ratcheting system like they use on fences. Would give a 6 feet to either side of the plant for it to grow out on the trellis, and that's giving it more room than it really needs. I think most commercial grapes need about 7-8 feet spacing. The other advantage is you can place the vines at a better working height, no bending over to tend it, and you can easily get to either side of the vine. Easier to net to keep the birds off as well.
The big thing with grapes is airflow around the fruit and foliage. Lack of it is going to result in disease issues and lost fruit. Grapes also prefer well-drained, less than fertile soil, rocky soil even works. I figure the guys growing grapes commercially and for wine know what they're doing so I'd be wise to follow their lead. Not to mention I'd rather do it right the first time (even at expense) than go back and try to fix mistakes later. The real advantage I see with the commercial system is the maintenance. Once you've got it trained to trellis, and a "trunk" established its as easy as pruning it back to its main form at the end of each growing season, as opposed to dealing with a tangled mess, that ultimately, if you're like me, will go un-maintained.
Leaving aside whether it's an ideal place for the grape to grow, is growing on the fence going to present the grapevine as a tasty snack for anything kept out by the fence? In my area, deer strip any vines within their reach completely bare just after they leaf out in the spring, and keep them that way all year.
'Theoretically this level of creeping Orwellian dynamics should ramp up our awareness, but what happens instead is that each alert becomes less and less effective because we're incredibly stupid.' - Jerry Holkins
I grow grapes on my fences and use them as an adaptive wall on one of my sheds. In the summer the grapes shade the interior where I grow tilapia, and in the winter the leaves fall off and allow the sun to shine inside the structure. And, of course, my wall also produces food.